Who is Eligible to File an Opioid Injury Lawsuit?
Written by AskTheLawyers.com™ on behalf of Lowell Finson with Phillips Law Group.
Opioids make up a class of drugs used to reduce pain and are known for their serious side effects, including dangerous addiction and physical dependence. Opioids require a prescription from a doctor, and although illegal opioids have also been a problem for some time, both prescribed and illegal drugs from this class put patients and users at high risk. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 70% of drug overdose deaths in 2018 involved an opioid, and of those deaths, 32% were prescribed opioids. There are so many opioid lawsuits in motion and being filed each day that many of these are combined into one mass tort where individuals can seek compensation for their individual cases while at the same time drawing from the similar experiences of other plaintiffs.
The following parties may be eligible to file an opioid injury lawsuit:
- People who were assured an opioid was not addictive if taken as prescribed by their doctor.
- Family members of deceased opioid overdose victims.
- Government collectives dealing with the costs of the opioid epidemic in their area. This may include local and state governments, city governments, counties, tribes, and even schools.
The above parties may be eligible to seek compensation from the liable parties for damages resulting from the opioid addiction. Damages resulting from opioid addiction may include medical bills, lost wages, ongoing therapy and life care expenses, pain and suffering, and even wrongful death and funeral expenses in the event the victim passes away.
Common opioids and their legal status include the following:
- Oxycodone (OxyContin) must be prescribed.
- Hydrocodone (Vicodin) must be prescribed.
- Morphine must be prescribed.
- Methadone must be prescribed.
- Fentanyl must be prescribed and generally is only approved for treating advanced cancer pain. Fentanyl is also known to be illegally made and distributed.
- Heroin is an illegal opioid.
Side effects of opioid use may include the following:
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Respiratory depression (i.e. the body is too sedated to breathe)
- Brain damage caused by respiratory depression
- Development of a tolerance requiring increased dosage
- Abdominal bloating
- Liver damage
Opioid manufacturers are considered particularly responsible for the opioid injury epidemic.
Pharmaceutical companies, drug wholesalers, and even prescribing physicians may all be considered fully or partially depending on the lawsuit. However, the overarching defendant in many opioid injury lawsuits are the opioid manufacturers themselves. The companies responsible for developing and producing these drugs previously assured doctors and prescribing physicians that their products were not addictive, resulting in the medical community prescribing these drugs at higher rates than ever before.
However, this reassurance had much more to do with marketing than scientific evidence, and even patients taking the medications as prescribed were becoming addicted and suffering as a result. Manufacturers, pharmaceutical companies, and wholesalers have been accused of intentionally providing inadequate warnings with these products in an effort to boost their sales, using false advertising to imply that the only harm came from patients taking the drug incorrectly. However, studies have since shown that this is not the case.
If you suspect you may be eligible to file an opioid injury lawsuit, reach out to an opioid injury lawyer to discuss your options for recovery.